THE deal which did most to secure Lee Jae-yong’s control over South Korea’s biggest conglomerate threatened this week to ruin him. On January 16th special prosecutors accused Mr Lee, the only son of Samsung’s chairman, Lee Kun-hee, of bribery, embezzlement and perjury. But three days later a court rejected a request to arrest him, as a suspect in an investigation into a vast influence-peddling case that led last month to the South Korean president’s impeachment. It saw “no reasonable grounds” to detain him while prosecutors pursue their probe.
For now, the result is a victory for Samsung. Prosecutors had accused Mr Lee of paying 43bn won ($36m) into sports and cultural organisations controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a former confidante of Park Geun-hye, the president: the biggest-ever sum in a South Korean bribery charge. In return for that grant, they allege, Samsung secured government support for a controversial $8bn merger of two affiliates—Cheil Industries, the group’s de facto holding company, and Samsung C&T, its construction arm—in July 2015. That support, they say, came from a vote cast by the state-run National Pension Service…Continue reading